Recognizing the Reality of the Creative Life

in #artlast year

I suppose most creative and artistic people have the dream — openly and/or secretly — to be able to live a creative life and have the income from that be sufficient to sustain them.

Alas, most of us end up merely dreaming, but ultimately end up living the reality of being filing clerks, librarians, bartenders and retail clerks... while pursuing our creative dreams on a part-time basis.

Carefully Balanced

Of course, our dreams aren't always realistic.

What comes to mind is how often we conveniently "forget" that a substantial part of a full-time creative life is less about the creation of art, and more about the business end of art.

As I write these words, I have spent the entire morning (it is 1:35pm, right now...) doing little more than bookkeeping and data entry of receipts and sales slips from last season's holiday markets. Boring? Yup!

But it brings up one of the business realities of the creative life: You kind of have to know — in hard cold numbers — how things are going, in order to know if you are actually doing well enough to say that you're "making it."

Delicate Tendrils

It's easy enough for the creative brain to say "yeah, but it FEELS like things are going really well!" but if you're not fully plugged into the nuts and bolts of what you're paying for art supplies, and your selling prices... well, you may be in for a rude awakening that feels like it's in conflict with how you felt about how things were going.

I have a friend — who's a massage therapist and ceramic artist — who found herself on the wrong end of the equation, a couple of years ago... she felt things were going "great" but that feeling was being artificially held up by growing credit card debt, which had crept from "almost paid off" to over $10,000 in the course of a couple of years.

Her world was rather shattered when she had to take on a part time job as a waitress, in order to keep making her credit card payments.

Whereas I definitely want to make it, I also want to be honest with myself about the creative dream. And I'm not going to pretend that things are "going well enough" unless I can see that, in black and white.

And so, I deal with the reality of having to do the boring non-creative work, AND with the reality of accepting that the numbers may not tell me what I hoped they will.

But I'll keep plugging away at it!

Thanks for reading!